Alec Gillis, a special effects maestro responsible for creating many creatures to terrorize innocent film-goers minds for years, finally takes the step back behind the camera and into the chair of the director and served as a writer too, his longtime friend Tom Woodruff Jr. as a producing partner. Harbinger, a fishing vessel, helmed by Lance Henriksen, prepares for an alien battle prepped by a deluxe experienced special effects crew, resulting in mix of The Thing (1982) dances with Aliens (1986). This movie, took the route of a successful crowdfunding campaign, and with a resume of Gillis, with such movies as Tremors, Starship Troopers and Death Becomes Her (Academy Award for Best Visual Effects) makes it awfully hard to deny the request for a true effects influence horror story.
The plot finds eerily similar to the tale of The Thing, with a crabbing ship captained by Henriksen (Graff) and a group of graduate students seeking to study the effects of global warming on orcas, headed by Sadie (Camille Balsamo) who has family ties to Graff. However, before all of the mayhem starts the audience gets a rudimentary introduction to both the students and crew, in more of a one-liner to satisfy the descriptions of each. Sadie acts as if in charge, taking unproven and lethal chances, going against the advice of her professor Stephen (Matt Winston) and ruffling the feathers of fellow classmate Ronelle (Giovonnie Samuels). Soon enough the team encounter a Russian spacecraft, and a cosmonaut unbeknownst to them carrying strange microbes, al a Leviathan (1989), and with minutes of The Thaw (2009), the infection starts and absorbing crew members combining the DNA and knowledge, all sounds very familiar. The beasts, which truly are the creative minds of special effects fans dazzling into overdrive, will notice the resemblance of the Alien and oozing into a cousin of the Blob, all while the ship rests in the snowy Arctic, surrounded by ice. The creature is more animatronic and physical than computer domination, simplicity to frighten with actual presences than to image something, which is later replaced with CGI. Also, incredibly enough a well train Russian spy works among the crew and actually seems to know more the spacecraft, and information on how to contact a submarine, which comes out left field than anywhere else, all handle capable by Milla Bjorn (Svet).
Many wonderful elements came into play for the pacing of the film, a once bright deck and passageways, become increasingly dark, hinting the impending doom and gloom , and the lighting flickering to hide the creature, until the precise moment of the final battle. Gillis base part of the alien lifeform from an earth bound eight-legged micro tardigrades, discovered in 1773, reasoning for using this animal, withstands temperatures of minus 458F to 300F, absorbing radiation hundreds of times more that any human. It all serves to show that the smaller an animal is the great possibilities to fascinate and freak out an audience, with abilities of handling a vacuum of outer space. These microbes have literally fans in horror, which enjoy the discovery of them and hence knowing they were the basis of this horror movie will give lasting joy, and to add, they are freaky to view in picture format. The return of creature features from talented filmmakers can make the horror/ sci-fi market from the heyday into an enjoyable venue, moving away just from the cryptozoology – i.e. Bigfoot, and centering the world of fantasy always reminds one of the classic King Kong (1933) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Recently the films of Nailbiter (2013), Animal (2014), and Dark Was the Night (2014) have scattered across the horror landscape and fulfilling the thoughts of wondering what that screech in the middle of night actually was, or the barking of a dog to a nonhuman intruder, the mind wonders when these beasts hatch.
Aside from the previously mentioned similarities to The Thing (1982) and Leviathan, the story works it best, and Henriksen works tiresomely with a comical line that references back to Jaws (1975) “Going to need a bigger bucket,” in regard to containment. The dread and suspense do struggle to maintain equal footing in the movie, and that might make some uninterested, however the throwback to 80s special effects interests you then this is what you seek to discover.
Sometimes watery graves need to remain untouched, the human curiosities note the issue but not investigate, and most important, never ever open anything from outer space without the proper measures on safety, a crabbing vessel is not the place. For when one does, all horror fans, the Pandora’s Box unleashes the turmoil and death quickly follows all after disturbing sequences plague everyone involved.
This review was originally published on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website in December 2015 with a view count of 1,695.
- Terror is just beneath the surface.
IMDb Rating: 4.5/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10